Altering the genes of an embryo isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s used today by couples who carry harmful genes, like those that cause cystic fibrosis, to ensure that it’s not passed on to their children.
Once it’s understood just how DNA influences intelligence, we’ll eventually be able to reliably alter the genes of an embryo to birth children that are substantially smarter than ever before. While this kind of technology might sound like it’s a while away, experts estimate that we could be seeing it happen within five to ten years.
According James D. Miller in his article published on Business Insider, once people anywhere start using the technology to have smarter kids, there will be many others wanting to follow suit.
“IQ makes a huge difference to life outcomes, and at the very least many rich parents who spend tens of thousands of dollars for private elementary schools to slightly boost their kids’ potential will spend similar lesser sums at fertility clinics for much more substantial results,” he says.
Out of fear of becoming an uncompetitive country, Miller says US conservatives would support the move and the liberals (their Labor Party equivalent) would likely subsidise the procedure to ensure equality across wealth.
“For example, if Chinese workers, scientists, and soldiers had, say, a 30 IQ point advantage over their American counterparts, the best America could hope for would be to have something like Hong Kong’s international status.”
He says while the effects will take some time to be realised (the kids have to grow up first, after all) these smarter humans will eventually change civilization, but the mere expectation of a smarter society would immediately raise interest rates.
“Imagine it’s 2021 and fertility clinics successfully create babies that experts believe will grow up to have 15 IQ points (one standard deviation) more than they would have without the clinics’ assistance. Experts further agree that within 10 years clinics will be regularly adding another 50 IQ points to their clients’ progenies by which time the clinics will also be editing in other useful traits such as increased work ethic, disease resistance, and higher emotional intelligence,” says Miller
In anticipation of these super-children, governments around the world would happily borrow more money today, knowing that a smarter and richer society could handle the debt burden in the future. All of this boils down to raising interest rates, says Miller.
“Since understanding the consequences of a smarter workforce will increase the desire to borrow but reduce the wish to save, real interest rates will have to go up. These higher rates will reduce incentives to borrow while increasing the willingness to save and so will restore equilibrium to money markets.”
You didn’t think rates would stay low forever, did you?